Basic income is on the political agenda


It has been a busy time for basic income activism in the territory we now call Canada. The P.E.I. Working Group for a Livable Income is encouraged by the new level of support for basic income, including in the House of Commons. In August of 2020, NDP MP Leah Gazan submitted Motion 46 (M-46), calling for a permanent guaranteed livable basic income to replace the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB). According to the rules of the House, a unanimous vote is required to allow debate on a motion in the House of Commons. When this vote was presented on April 18, 2021, it did not get the required unanimous consent. It is hoped that the intent of M-46 will be re-introduced in the future.

In the meantime, Liberal MP Julie Dzerowicz introduced Bill C-273, an act to establish a national strategy for a guaranteed basic income. The bill’s first reading was held on Feb. 22. At first glance, M-46 and Bill C-273 look very similar. And in many ways, they are: both Gazan and Dzerowicz recognize that the current programs intended to alleviate poverty simply aren’t enough. They are undignified, needlessly complex, and inadequate in meeting basic needs. Gazan and Dzerowicz know that a cash transfer program like basic income (and like the Canada child benefit, old age security, and the guaranteed income supplement for seniors) is feasible in the Canadian context.

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